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Durrani puts his money on India

"I would give a 60-40 chance to India," said the all-rounder, who starred in India's 1971 win.

india Updated: May 14, 2006 11:33 IST

Former all-rounder Salim Durrani, who played a key role in India's last and only Test triumph in the Caribbean in 1971, on Saturday tipped Rahul Dravid's men as favourites in the upcoming series against West Indies.

"Both the teams are bulging with young players. But I would give a 60-40 chance to India," said Durrani, who starred in India's 2-1 win in the 1971 series when Sunil Gavaskar made his debut.

Durrani, invited as the Chief Guest for the national convention of Sports Journalists Federation of India held here over five days, said the Indian team missed genuine allrounders although Irfan Pathan and Ajit Agarkar were "filling in the blanks."

Durrani, who had toured West Indies twice in 1962 and 1971, said the bouncy pitches in the Caribbean were likely to help the new ball bowlers.

Showering praise on Kerala fast bowler S Sreesanth, he said the boy had "come from the heavens."

"His ability to outswing the ball at a speed of 140-142 km tells you that he is a rhythmic bowler," he said.

Durrani said one-day internationals required different sort of skills from Test cricket. It was more about mental approach and toughness -- batsmen have to work hard to get runs and bowlers have to struggle to be economical.

"Test cricket is much harder and in the coming series, West Indies would have the advantage of playing on their home ground and they have got Brian Lara as well," he said.

All praise for the current Indian team and coach Greg Chappell, Durrani said the outcome of the Test series would depend on the performance of fast bowlers.

He described Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Ajit Agarkar and Ramesh Powar as fighting cricketers.

Asked whom he admired most among current players, he said his "opinion keeps changing every day. It will be Sachin one day, Sehwag another day, and maybe Dhoni is on my list now."

He said India had a miserable tour of Windies in 1962, losing it 5-0. Nari Contractor was the captain then.

But Durrani said he bowled his "heart out" in the 1971 series when Ajit Wadekar captained India, which contributed to India's rare series win over the West Indies.

"Gavaskar took off from there. He started like a champion."

Asked whether he used to hit sixes on demand, he said no cricketer could do that although aggressive hitting came naturally to him.

On sponsorship of players by companies, almost non-existent in his times, he said "Why shouldn't the boys get money? Let them be models."

First Published: May 14, 2006 00:00 IST